HERE 360

We must pool car sensor data to solve problems on the road

Written by Sebastian Kurme | Feb 15, 2016 1:50:43 PM

Has there ever been a more exciting time in the automotive industry? Whether you want to call it “the start of a revolution” like Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, or the “onset of a second machine age” like Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler – automakers are going through a profound transition.

Changing consumer demands and habits, connectivity and a proliferation of sensor data are changing mobility as we know it.

At last week’s prestigious 16th Car Symposium in Bochum, Germany, more than 1,000 industry experts came together to discuss the current status, the biggest challenges and the many opportunities.

HERE was represented by Aaron Dannenbring, Senior Vice President Core Map Group who, in addition to Barra and Zetsche, gave a keynote presentation.

For Aaron, the biggest opportunities for the industry lie in harnessing the diverse data derived from the “Internet of Things” ecosystem. This would enable the creation of services and use cases we all want to see – more accurate traffic, hazard warning systems and automated driving. But, as he pointed out, this requires a seamless flow of data that can be collected and shared quickly in a cost-effective and secure manner.

Today, however, we are faced with a lot of data silos. Most data generated by the car stays in the car. Traffic signaling data stays inside traffic management centers – which, incidentally, can manage traffic in a city, region, country or state, but not across borders. This makes it currently impossible to achieve the scale of data needed to create effective services that everybody would benefit from.

Aaron therefore called for more collaboration around data across the industry: “There needs to be a means by which we can pool certain data into a single system for our collective benefit – for safer roads, more enjoyable driving and so on – while at the same time of course enabling car brands to drive meaningful and increased differentiation in their cars and connected services.”

Using the example of a road maintenance truck crew laying out cones and closing off a lane on a motorway, he showed how only partial information would be insufficient. To ensure safety and smooth traffic flow, it would be important that the first car to encounter the situation -- rather than the seventh – detects the incident and communicates the information to vehicles behind. It’s for this reason that HERE kicked off an initiative last year to discuss a common format for sensor data and how it is delivered to the cloud.

HERE is also planning to source vehicle data from connected Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles in a step that will make a real difference to services they and other automakers offer their customers. But, as Aaron emphasized, to build the most impactful services for drivers, data from more than these three vehicle brands is needed. Moreover, we need to look beyond vehicle data and also consider road infrastructure such as traffic sensors, traffic lights, and other connected devices.

In this context Aaron described a fundamental change in the role of maps and location technology for the automotive industry. Rather than merely being a “feature” in cars, location is becoming the common denominator across all data types and transforming into a fundamental enabler for new types of services. Only an open and independent location cloud like HERE can help automakers worldwide unlock the full value of all the available data, by serving as the independent custodian of data and intelligently linking the different elements.

Exciting times, indeed.